I was an enthusiastic salesman in the Lawn and Garden department of the Montgomery Ward store that was Weber’s top seller. One snowy Saturday, George dropped by the store unannounced to discover the secret of our success. What he found was chaos. The store was running a special on eight-cent guppies that day and the department was short-handed. For some reason, all of Chicago was suddenly mad for cheap guppies. Feigning interest in a riding lawn mower, George approached me. Besieged by guppy lovers and feeling badly that I couldn’t give this customer the attention he deserved, I jotted down his name and address and promised to personally conduct a proper demonstration at George’s house. George left, thinking that was the end of it. But I knew it wasn’t.
A few weeks later, when the snow had melted, I drove up with a large riding mower in tow. I was puzzled by George’s patio—it was covered with Weber kettle grills and prototypes. Man, this guy is into grilling! I thought, then got down to demonstrating the finer points of this mean mowing machine.
George later told me he asked himself, “Is this guy for real?” Luckily for me, he decided to find out and offered me a sales position with Weber right then and there. (So that explained the grills!) Why not, I thought, and we shook on it. Thus began a wild, inventive, and productive career as “Weber’s Chief Grill Peddler.”
The round kettle shape so familiar to us today was relatively unknown back then. But George and I gained market share the old fashioned way—by loading up the station wagon and setting out to spread the grilling gospel according to Weber, one live cooking demonstration at a time. But all we ever did was provide the equipment and fan the flames. The true passion of grilling is in anyone who enjoys a good meal, great times with family and friends, and an aversion to wasting those precious moments scrubbing pots and pans.
Sadly, George is no longer with us, but his legacy lives on every time folks gather for a great grilled meal.